The NFL is about to see its first-ever male cheerleaders.
Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies will be part of the Los Angeles Rams’ squad, while Jesse Hernandez will take to the field as one of the New Orleans Saints’ Saintsations.
The news is especially welcome after a year in which Washington Redskins player Derrius Guice said he was asked whether his mother was a prostitute and if he was gay during interviews for prospective teams.
Peron and Jinnies were accepted into the Rams’ squad in March.
After he made it, Jinnies tweeted: “Still can’t believe I’m one of the first males in history to be a pro NFL cheerleader!
“Everyone’s support and love has been insane! 😭 thank you and GO RAMS!”
Still can’t belive I’m one of the first males in history to be a pro NFL cheerleader! Everyone’s support and love has been insane! 😭 thank you and GO RAMS! @RamsNFL @LARamsCheer #LARams pic.twitter.com/srpkYiVmEI
— Napoleon Jinnies (@NapoleonJinnies) March 27, 2018
Hernandez, 25, posted on local TV channel KATC‘s YouTube channel before the final try-out, telling viewers that Peron, Jinnies and his mother had been huge inspirations for him in his journey.
He said that “a big reason why I wanted to try out and be a part of this great team is… my mum sent me a link about the LA Rams’ male cheerleaders who made the team a couple of weeks ago.
“She said it was my time to shine.”
He added: “The process has been great, everyone has been really nice to me and I can’t wait to see where this goes.”
The cheerleader also told WDSU News: “It was very difficult, growing up being a male dancer, but I never gave it up, because it’s something that I love to do.
“I wanted to pursue it when I got out of high school, but there were always little negative things here and there, and of course that hits the ego.”
He has put these comments to one side, overcoming them and fierce competition – there were 120 people competing for places on the squad at the first try-out – to become a Saintsation.
Last year, retired NFL player Ryan O’Callaghan came out as gay.
O’Callaghan was drafted to the New England Patriots in 2006, and has also played for the Kansas City Chiefs.
He explained that he had tried to come out once before, in 2014, when he publicly thanked his boyfriend while receiving an award – but the news went pretty much unnoticed.
There has only been one openly gay player in NFL history – St Louis Rams player Michael Sam.
Sam did not have a glittering career and was later cut from the team amid immense media scrutiny.